Friday, June 28, 2013

Reflection from Fernando

When I worked on the Garifuna Bible translation project, one day a good friend and mentor noticed I was becoming consumed by the work and told me, "This is the Lord's project, and He will complete it, with or without you." 

I am still learning this truth. As the time drew closer to leave Honduras, I felt anxious about temporarily leaving the work God had called us to start. It is good to care about and be committed to our projects, but we shouldn't forget that the Lord is more interested in us than in these tasks. I am learning to trust that if He has started the work, He will perfect it, and God has given me this time away from Honduras to reflect, renew strength, and remember that He is the one who works. Sometimes being overly focused on work prevents us from enjoying His presence.

Psalm 27:4 says, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."

This is my prayer during this time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Where It All Began...

After finishing CTEN orientation in Kerrville, we drove to Dallas on June 14 to visit friends and share at a church on Sunday. Fernando and I met seven years ago in Dallas while studying linguistics, before he went to Africa and I went to Mexico. We went back to the very spot we met, right by the mail boxes in the dormitory! It made me miss a lot of good friends I made, but knowing they are serving the Lord all over the world is a great encouragement.

We stayed with my friend Christina and her husband, Jeremy, and really appreciated their hospitality! Christina and I were teammates in Mexico. She had to return to the U.S. due to health problems, but God has healed her, and it was great to see her happy and married to a great man. We are also excited for them as they prepare to serve as Bible translators in Mexico in the near future.

We enjoyed catching up with other friends, and we want to thank them for their kindness, hospitality, and prayers for us, as well. Some, but not all:

Fernando's friend from college 

Daughters of the Wycliffe translators who served on the Garifuna Bible translation project (actually, we saw them in San Antonio a few days before)

Friends from college/linguistics studies and their sweet family

On June 16 we shared at Mt. Sinai Baptist church. It was special to share in a U.S. church together for the first time as a couple, and we were blessed by the kind, warm reception and interest in the Garifunas and our work in Honduras. We want to thank the pastor and congregation for inviting us, praying for us, and making us feel at home.

On June 18, we drove back to Houston and flew to Seattle. We are getting settled in and will share more with you soon! Thank you for praying for our travels!

Friday, June 21, 2013

New Member Orientation ... Two Years Later!

After flying from Honduras to Houston on June 9, we drove to Kerrville (near San Antonio) for New Member Orientation with our organization, Commission to Every Nation (CTEN). Although we have been members for two years, we had not yet attended orientation because Fernando's visa was still in process. During the three days (June 11-13) we met those who work in the CTEN office, learned more about how CTEN started and the vision God has given those involved, and enjoyed meeting other new members, some just starting their journey in missions and others with years of experience.

All staff and participants

We greatly benefited from learning more about practical elements of ministry, such as taxes and financial records, handling interpersonal conflict on the field, and addressing security problems in our countries of service. A key part of orientation we found helpful was partnership development, or support raising, which is what we will be doing during our time in the Northwest in the coming months. Perhaps the best part of orientation was spending time with people who love the Lord, are committed to serving Him and others, and have blessed us in numerous ways since we have been members.

With Richard and Jana Malm (CTEN president)
and Stephen and Tammie Burger (Central America pastoral care couple)

We were happy to see Stephen and Tammie, our pastoral care couple, again (you can read about their visit to Honduras in November), and we are thankful to be a part of the CTEN family. We are particularly grateful for their faithful prayer support, encouragement, and patience as we have had to wait two years to attend orientation and do full-time partnership development; their flexibility has allowed us to serve in Honduras even receiving less than half of our needed monthly support! We also appreciate their integrity in receiving funds donated by ministry partners. What a blessing to a part of this organization.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy to Announce...

... that we're going to have a baby! We are excited and so thankful! Our baby is due February 2; I am about seven weeks pregnant. We appreciate your prayers for a healthy pregnancy, and we're looking forward to this new season in our lives!

Monday, June 3, 2013

On the Brink of Transition

What does the word "transition" bring to your mind? Maybe you love the thought of change, adventure, and a new start, or maybe you dread the idea of adjusting to new places and situations, but certainly all of us experience transition throughout our lives.

When I became involved in missions, I expected transitions to become easier over time. On the one hand, logistics, such as packing, are much easier. During my first international trip in 2002, I was robbed in-country and had limited cash for my return trip. Half-way home, in Miami, I found out I had too much luggage (i.e., gifts for everyone I possibly knew) but not enough money to pay the extra fee. A check-out official had pity on me, used shrink wrap to bind two together, and counted them as one item, telling me that, in exchange, I should find a Latino boyfriend (!). Happily, this part of travel is now less eventful!

On the other hand, the part of transitions that gets more difficult are the good-byes. Living overseas has allowed me to form beautiful friendships with unforgettable people from different countries, and it is impossible to simply move on without missing those I have grown to love, serve with, and learn from. One of my favorite Bible passages is when Paul says good-bye to people in Ephesus, where he spent three years teaching them and living among them (Acts 20). Paul and the Ephesians knew God was calling him elsewhere and that they would never see each other again; the good-bye was painful and emotional precisely because of the beautiful way God had knit their souls together during that time. This reminds me that, while painful good-byes are a part of missions, forming deep relationships with others is always worth it, even when we would rather avoid the pain.

This Sunday, Fernando and I start a new chapter as we travel to the U.S. In the midst of seemingly endless final details, it started feeling much more real yesterday, when we said good-bye to our church in La Ceiba. Although we plan to be back by the end of this year, it's hard leaving behind those who are our family here.

Here is the new church-building in process. Praise God the church now can meet at its own property!

Fernando preaching in Garifuna, with translation to Spanish

As we prepare to be away for awhile, we are also looking forward to saying "Hello!" to those we will see in the U.S. (I can't wait!!). We also are asking the Lord to prepare our hearts so we can accomplish all He has for us and make the most of our time with everyone we will see. We know God will do great things we can't even imagine yet.

We would really appreciate your prayers for us in the coming days. If you'd like to pray, here's what we have coming up:

This week
  • Pray for our health; we're fighting colds and don't have much time to rest.
  • Pray for final details - meetings, errands, packing, etc.
  • This Saturday, Alison will teach at a church youth event and say good-bye to the girls and to the teachers.
Texas trip
  • On Sunday (6/9), we will fly to Houston. Please pray for everything to go smoothly at immigration and customs.
  • On Monday, we will rent a car and drive to Kerrville and attend orientation with CTEN Tuesday-Thursday (6/11-6/13).
  • On Friday (6/14) we will drive to Dallas to visit friends and share at a church on Sunday (6/16).
  • On Tuesday (6/18) we will drive back to Houston and fly to Seattle.
  • Pray for safe travels, provision for expenses, and for open hearts to whatever God has for us each day.

Once we get to Washington, we will let you know what we'll be up to. In the meantime, thank you for making this transition with us through your prayers. We are excited to see many of you soon!